Former Halifax taxi driver accused of sexual assault finishes testifying in retrial
Warning: This story contains details of an alleged sexual assault that may be disturbing to some readers. Discretion is advised.
For nearly eight hours, Bassam Al-Rawi was cross-examined by Crown prosecutor Carla Ball regarding an allegation that he had sexually assaulted an intoxicated female in the back of his taxi.
The alleged incident happened in the early morning hours of May 23, 2015, before the victim was found partially naked by a police officer.
Al-Rawi told the court through an Arabic translator that the young woman was emotional and intoxicated when she entered his taxi. The Crown asked Al-Rawi why he asked her whether she was experiencing “boy drama” and he responded that he assumed she was, based on the state she was in.
He went on to explain that he complimented the woman because he was trying to “calm her down” in order for her to be able to provide directions.
The police officer who found Al-Rawi’s parked Honda Civic in Halifax’s south end testified that she found an unconscious female passenger in his back seat, with her shirt pulled up to her breasts and panties and pants off.
The officer testified that when she approached Al-Rawi’s vehicle she found him between the legs of the passenger who had them sprawled over the front seat. She also testified that Al-Rawi was fumbling to hide the woman’s pants and underwear between his center console.
Al-Rawi went on the record to say all of that information is inaccurate.
He testified that the customer was highly intoxicated and kept telling him to drive around from one street to the next.
He claims the complainant kissed his cheek and placed her hand on his neck but that it didn’t affect his driving.
Al-Rawi told the court that while driving throughout the south end, the woman asked him to stop so she could urinate.
Ball asked several questions of Al-Rawi regarding inconsistencies she felt he gave in his police statement and what he told the court.
WATCH: Cabbie accused of sex assault continues testimony
In particular, the Crown asked Al-Rawi why he never mentioned that the woman got out of his vehicle to urinate when he gave his statement to the investigating officer.
Al-Rawi told Crown prosecutor Carla Ball that he felt the investigating officer was persecuting him based on the colour of his skin and accent and that he chose to reserve his right to silence during some of the questioning.
Overall, Al-Rawi says he knew the complainant was fumbling with her pants to take them off, but that he didn’t want to look back and address it because he chose to be “respectful of her.”
The Crown questioned why Al-Rawi didn’t get out of his cab immediately to call for the police officer to help him when he said she saw her coming, based on the discomfort he said he was experiencing dealing with the female.
He told the court he didn’t feel threatened enough to do so and that it would have been his last resort. He did agree with the Crown that he was relieved to see the police officer but disagrees with the testimony the officer gave regarding the position Al-Rawi and the complainant were in.
The court will be back in session on May 30th for closing submissions to Judge Ann Marie Simmons.
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